Looking for the next generation of innovators – introducing the Amazon Longitude Explorer Prize

  • Hannah Picton

    Hannah Picton

    Assistant Programme Manager

    View profile

09 Nov 2020

With the support of Amazon, Nesta Challenges has launched the Amazon Longitude Explorer Prize, inviting young people across the UK to test, create and develop new technological solutions to the biggest issues of our time!

What is the Amazon Longitude Explorer Prize? 

Nesta Challenge has delivered the Longitude Explorer Prize since 2014 and now, the Prize is making a comeback for 2020/21, and it’s bigger and better than ever before! The Amazon Longitude Explorer Prize, which is based around a different STEM theme each time, aims to demystify innovation and entrepreneurship, while encouraging young people to be the driving force in the future of tech for good. We truly believe that young people have the power and potential to make the world a better place and that any young person – no matter their background – can contribute towards tackling society’s biggest challenges. The Amazon Longitude Explorer Prize wants every single young person who is passionate about making positive change to feel empowered and supported to enter, regardless of their gender, ethnicity or background. 

Running across the academic year, the Prize challenges young people to come up with ideas for a product or service that will help tackle the issues they care most about. As the leaders of tomorrow and the next generation of innovators,  we know young people are using their creativity, drive and innovative thinking to tackle the challenges faced by millions across the world, which is why this year we are appealing to 11-16 year olds across the UK to answer this call to action: 

How can you use technology to create an app, product or service that will make the world a better place, enabling people to live better, live longer, live greener and live together?

Why is it important? 

Fostering entrepreneurial spirit among young people will be vital in order to successfully solve some of the greatest challenges of today, as well as supporting a new generation to gain the skills needed for their future work. Across the UK, schemes that focus on providing young people with the opportunity to participate in innovation and invention are currently only reaching 1.5%  of the total pupil population. In an innovation landscape that already struggles with diversity and representation, this increases the risk of missing out on vital progress and positive societal change. Women are outnumbered by men by 4:1 as founders of innovation start-ups. Only 7% of UK patent applications are made by women, and just 4% of the UK tech workforce identifies as BAME. 

Giving young people access to innovation and entrepreneurship schemes early on is a key driver to close these gaps and the Amazon Longitude Explorer Prize aims to do just that by focusing on reaching young people from diverse backgrounds, bridging the gap between young people and innovation. It challenges young people to develop innovative, practical solutions to society’s biggest issues using technology. The prize offers a positive intervention, enabling students to discover innovation and entrepreneurship early on, while also providing opportunities to learn the foundations of establishing a marketable product from business mentors.

What is happening this year? 

Schools and youth groups across the UK are being invited and supported to apply and participate in the programme with an interactive online delivery, consisting of a fantastic array of webinar sessions, downloadable resources and guides and the opportunity to transform their idea into a reality over the academic year with access to mentors, hardware and software – and a chance to win up to £20,000 for their schools or youth groups, plus individual prizes. 

Entries to the Prize open today, Monday 9 November 2020, with classroom activities and materials to help young people to kick-start their creative thinking and apply available for free on the website. All that’s needed is needed is an idea and you have until Friday 12 February to apply!  

How do I get involved? 

The prize is open to secondary schools and youth groups across the UK to enter teams of two to five young people aged 11-16 years old. The application process is simple and completed online via the prize website.

If you’re interested in supporting a team to apply:

Applications are now open, find out more and apply before the 12th of February 2021!